Gout and Causes of Gout

Holiday Healthy Eating

The holiday season is definitely upon us now. This means it’s the time for many different activities, like decorating and baking, shopping and wrapping, and talking about gout.

Wait, talking about gout?

Yep, you heard us right! Of course we need to talk about this arthritic condition during the holiday season. It is, after all, the time of year where we all face dietary temptations on a virtually daily basis.

That’s a significant consideration because gout is very much related to food and dietary choices.

Before we go further, let’s take a moment and clarify exactly what is gout and how food plays a role in this particular form of arthritis.

To start, we should clear up a common misconception – arthritis is not a single disease. The condition people typically associate with the word is actually osteoarthritis (which can be thought of as the “wear and tear” variety that develops over time). Osteoarthritis might be the most common form, but there are many types, including gout.

Essentially, gout develops in response to a byproduct of food breakdown within the body. When you eat foods or drink beverages containing substances known as purines—and most food products do contain purines (just to varying levels)—your body breaks them down and creates something called uric acid. This is completely natural, and the uric acid is typically flushed out during urination.

Problems arise, however, when either too much uric acid is produced or the body has trouble removing it effectively. In these cases, the uric acid remains in the bloodstream, but will ultimately start settling into joints. Over time, the uric acid builds up and crystalizes. These urate crystals have sharp, pointed edges that can cause pain and irritation in soft tissues.

Most of the time, the uric acid has settled into the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint located at the base of the big toe. As such, symptoms are often experienced in the area.

Gout causes periodic flares of sharp pain, and these flares can be related to the food products you eat. As such, both a treatment and prevention practice for gout is to eat foods that are low in purines and drink plenty of water (to flush the uric acid out of the system). In some cases, you may need prescription for medication that either helps by either improving uric acid removal or blocking its production.

Since meats, seafood, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and beer promote high levels of uric acid that trigger a gout attack, you need to make changes to your diet. Now, you may think that a lot of tasty options have been eliminated with those dietary restrictions, but you can use whole grains, veggies, fruit, legumes, beans, and fat-free or low-fat dairy to make delicious meals.

If you want more information—or need professional treatment for gout—contact Houston Foot Specialists today! Call our Houston office at (713) 467-8886 and we will be happy to help!

Categories: Arthritis